Compilation of statistical data and their interpretation always lag behind evolving socio-economic dynamics (“Census findings point to decade of rural distress,” Sept. 26). However, it did not require a census to recognise what the article says. Urbanisation cannot be stopped, but can be regulated if farming is made a remunerative activity. Successive governments have adopted the strategy of throwing money at rural ‘schemes' that have high visibility from the electoral point of view.
It is now evident that the MGNREGA has at best been a palliative to mitigate acute economic distress. The scope of this scheme has to be enlarged to prevent migration to urban areas.
Investment in agriculture has to be stepped up especially in irrigation, cold storage, supply chain management, storage facilities, etc. The government cannot outsource the creation of these vital infrastructural assets to foreign players under the guise of allowing FDI in retail operations.
Rural India has always faced a grave situation as basic necessities have become dearer. Take rainfall, for example. Due to a falling water table, farmers are in agony as they cannot go in for dry crops. This has been seen in the case of groundnut cultivation in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh for the second successive year.
Our economy is heavily rural-based, which contributes to our growth rate. Let's hope that the government monitors the situation.
An increase of 10.87 per cent in the rural population versus 24.13 per cent in the urban population reflects a horrendous tale of deterioration of rural employment and the danger posed to agriculture and the rural economy. Civil society leaders must expend their energies to find ways to mobilise support and pressure the government to prioritise economic re-engineering in order to address social deprivations, rather than just confining themselves to spectacular shows of one-point corruption removal sagas.
Right from the first Five-Year Plan, successive governments have tried to focus on rural development and increase the employment potential in villages. They have also thought of reducing people's dependence on agriculture. It is no exaggeration to say that farmers, large and small, have abandoned agriculture and migrated to towns and cities in order to give their families a better life. The farmer is the backbone of the country and his welfare is the country's welfare. There is a lot of potential in the agricultural sector.
Karavadi Raghava Rao,
On reading Mr. Sainath's report, one feels that there is an urgent need for the government to redraw its economic policies for balanced regional development. Rural poverty is on the rise and the percentage of underfed people is growing at an alarming rate. Due to the economic schemes of neo-liberals, sustainable growth has gone astray. Sooner or later, the epidemic of urban migration is going to bode ill for the well-being of the nation.
Surveys reveal that 50 crore people are going to live in urban India by 2050. Already, the picture of food security and health-care access for the poor is daunting.
A reason for the continuous rise in India's urban population and its ultimately overtaking the rural population, especially after 2000, is the demand for land, on the pretext of urbanisation and a vision of becoming an industrially developed nation. Urbanisation is inevitable for any fast growing and emerging nation, but concurrently maintaining a substantial portion of land for agriculture and related areas is a must for food security, more importantly for a nation like India that has a huge population, and also to check migration pressuring the urban areas. A way out could be to make the national development programmes more inclusive and implement MGNREGA effectively, thus considerably reducing rural migration.
The government's lack of commitment to the rural agricultural population can be well understood by the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011and the financial powers given to the panchayati raj institutions. As Mahatma Gandhi said, India's glory lies in the well-being of the rural masses.
Veera Reddy R.,
It has been correctly identified that the dominant contributing factor to this not-so-healthy trend is the utter chaos in the farm sector, “resulting in the collapse of millions of livelihoods in agriculture and its related occupations” and then in the “despair-driven exodus” to urban settlements. In Kerala, militant trade unionism among farm workers and labourers observed ruthlessly by all political parties has resulted in headload workers charging a hefty “nokku kooli” just for letting others do the job. They would use strong-arm tactics if they are not paid for doing nothing. Industrial and construction sectors are now surviving on immigrant labour in their thousands, from Bihar, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Thus immigrants and their families substantially contribute to the rise in the urban population.
Col. C.V. Venugopalan (retd.),
Migration to urban centres in itself is not a bad thing, and is a process that can be interpreted in many a way. It is impossible that our land resources can continue to support 10 million people more every year. That all rural people have to stay in rural areas may not be the right argument. More opportunities and more investments (meaningful) have to be made to create more jobs in rural/urban areas. Migration could also be an indication of the freedom to move and explore better opportunities. There are issues with our land policy, but in a growing economy, moving to urban areas itself can't be attributed to rural distress.